Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Iran nuclear deal appears promising

*** BESTPIX *** WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14:  President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, conducts a press conference  in the East Room of the White House in response to the Iran Nuclear Deal, on July 14, 2015 in Washington, DC. The landmark deal will limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The agreement, which comes after almost two years of diplomacy, has also been praised by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Photo by Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images) 563872555
*** BESTPIX *** WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14: President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, conducts a press conference in the East Room of the White House in response to the Iran Nuclear Deal, on July 14, 2015 in Washington, DC. The landmark deal will limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The agreement, which comes after almost two years of diplomacy, has also been praised by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Photo by Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images) 563872555
Published Jul. 14, 2015

The historic agreement aimed at crippling Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon has enormous potential to make the world a safer place. But there is much to digest about the deal announced Tuesday with the United States and five other world powers, and Congress should use wisely the 60 days it has to carefully vet the details. It is a review that should be based on national security and our nation's long-term interests, not political calculations, campaign sound bites or interference from allies such as Israel.

The headlines of the accord are promising and the result of months of negotiations. The deal extends the time Iran would need to produce an atomic bomb from two or three months to at least one year, which would give the United States and its allies an opportunity to react if the Iranians broke the agreement. It dramatically reduces Iran's supplies of enriched uranium and its stockpile of centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas. It forces significant changes in existing facilities that could be used to help produce nuclear weapons. Those would be positive achievements that are certainly better than the status quo.

As President Barack Obama said, this is an accord that would be based on verification through inspections and enforcement rather than on trust of a nation that previously has proved untrustworthy. International inspectors would be provided regular access to major nuclear sites and monitor Iran's nuclear program for up to 25 years. And there would be a big stick to discourage cheating: Iran is desperate to have the United Nations sanctions lifted that have crippled its economy, and those sanctions could be "snapped back" within 65 days if the terms of the deal are violated.

Like any negotiation, this one has its compromises. A U.N. embargo on conventional weapons sales to Iran would be lifted within five years, and a ban on missile sales would be lifted in eight years. That was particularly important to Russia, which participated in the drafting of the accords, along with Britain, France, China and Germany. And no agreement is going to offer an ironclad guarantee that Iran will not be able to obtain or develop a nuclear bomb decades from now.

Predictably, this agreement is not good enough for Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "bad mistake of historic proportions" that would give Iran the financial resources to fund terrorist attacks. Obama later called Netanyahu to reassure him that the United States remains an important ally and that he shares concerns about Iran's support of terrorism. But Congress, which overreached by inviting Netanyahu to speak to a joint session earlier this year without consulting Obama, should focus on America's interests in vetting this deal.

Republicans ranging from House Speaker John Boehner to presidential candidates such as former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio also were quick to accuse Obama of jeopardizing national security. But as Obama noted, the international community that is committed to carrying out this agreement is not as committed to indefinitely continuing economic sanctions against Iran. After years of sanctions, there is nothing to suggest that clinging to that strategy eventually would force the Iranian government to give up its nuclear program entirely.

Rather than sniping at the Democrat in the White House, the Republican-led Congress should spend the 60-day review period analyzing the specifics of an agreement that has broad international support. Evaluate the tradeoffs. Analyze the practicality of the inspections and verifications in Iran. Question the assumptions, and help the American people better understand the terms so they can make their own informed judgments. Obama already has promised to veto any changes, so ultimately it would take more than partisan opposition to override a presidential veto and derail this deal.

A seriously flawed agreement is worse than no agreement. But the initial overview of this deal is positive for the nation and for the world. As Congress wades into the details, it should measure them against the present and the possible — not against the perfect.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Leonard Pitts [undefined]
    Leonard Pitts explains that diversity doesn’t happen by itself.
  2. San Francisco has benefited from the growth of nearby Silicon Valley. That metro area added 30,000 jobs in the past year.
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  3. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools this month in Tallahassee. [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers have to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  4. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to members of the Florida Legislature during a joint session of lawmakers this week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  5. Presiding Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters to the editor.
  6. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times]
    Women, Hispanics and residents from smaller counties are disproportionately serving long drug sentences that are no longer in place.
  7. Thousands of trees line the Hillsborough River near Wilderness park in Hillsborough County in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Many of Florida’s problems originate with that ‘motto,’ writes historian Gary Mormino.
  8. First meeting of U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. and their two wives — Patricia Nixon and Coretta Scott King — during Independence Day celebrations in Accra, Ghana, on March 6, 1957, on the tails of the end of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. It was the first trip to Africa of all of them. [Photo by Griff Davis on assignment as U.S. Foreign Service Officer by U.S. Information Service (USIS). Copyright and courtesy of Griffith J. Davis Photographs & Archives.]
    Griff Davis’ daughter recounts how the photographer and Foreign Service officer captured a famous photo of King and Richard Nixon.
  9. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman speak at a summit held by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Resiliency Coalition this month in St. Petersburg. [LANGSTON TAYLOR  |  Times staff]
    Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman should lead an effort for robust regional transit.
  10. Vehicle traffic is seen along Bayshore Boulevard at a crosswalk at South Dakota Avenue in Tampa. Several intersections have pedestrian-activated beacons.
    A bill would end the confusion and save lives by making crosswalk signals red.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement